mac TA v raptors 298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Maccabi Tel Aviv returned to Israel from Canada on Saturday afternoon after being thumped 118-84 by the Toronto Raptors in its last preseason game on Thursday night.
Maccabi was hoping to repeat its win over the Raptors at the same arena last year, but five games in the last 12 days, including four against NBA teams, proved to be too much for a fatigued Tel Aviv that could only keep pace with Toronto for two and a half periods.
Tel Aviv led in the second quarter by as many as 13 points, but a 20-2 Raptors run midway through the third period broke the Israelis' spirit and secured the Canadians' win.
Maccabi will now turn its attention to the real deal, with the team's season officially beginning on Monday night against Elitzur Ashkelon in the State Cup.
Three days later, Tel Aviv will face a much sterner test when it begins its Euroleague campaign against Unicaja Malaga at Nokia Arena.
"I am ready for the Euroleague and we will win the next game against Malaga because this is not the real Maccabi Tel Aviv," Maccabi coach Neven Spahija said after the game against Toronto.
"It is very difficult for us to play with NBA rules. We didn't know what was going on with the technical fouls. I still don't understand Bynum's technical fouls and the illegal defense that was called twice."
The focus of Thursday's game was ex-Maccabi star Anthony Parker who joined the Raptors during the summer.
The 31-year-old American, who led Tel Aviv to three European championships, faced his former teammates for the first time and scored 11 points for his new team.
"My wife kept saying it was going to be weird, but I was like 'No it's not. I play them in practice all the time,'" Parker said after the match. "But it was weird to see those guys wearing yellow and me not being on their side. I had fun and it was an experience. I'm glad my side won."
Parker also spoke of his strange feeling when hearing the Israeli National Anthem.
"I haven't heard it in so long and I'm humming along. I don't know all the words, but that was special for me right there. Then to see everybody on the sideline, it's special."
The hosts were led by Chris Bosh and Fred Jones who scored 16 points each, while T.J Ford added 13.
Maccabi can at least be cheered by the performance of Noel Felix who had 19 points and seven rebounds in his second game for the team. New signings Will Bynum and Simas Jasaitis had 14 and 13 points, respectively.
Tel Aviv led 29-25 at the end of the first period, thanks to good play by Bynum and Jasaitis.
Yotam Halperin scored five in a row at the start of the second quarter and Maccabi had its biggest lead of the game, 47-34.
The hosts began to eat away at the gap and took advantage of the Israelis turnovers, closing the visitors lead at half time to 55-53.
Bynum led the team to a 69-62 lead midway through the third quarter, but a 20-2 Toronto run gave the hosts an 84-71 lead at the end of three periods.
The margin continued to grow in the fourth quarter and the game ended in a 34 point Raptors victory.
"We started out kind of sluggish, it was the first back-to-back games of the year, so we were just getting familiar with it, but we turned it around," Toronto forward Chris Bosh said after the game.
"We still have a lot to learn and a lot of things we can do better," Maccabi veteran Derrick Sharp said.
"We are always going to be able to score, but we have a lot of work to do. We have to keep practicing and keep working hard."